Women to Inspire You: Breaking down barriers and doing what they love
In celebration of International Women’s Day!
There’s nothing more inspiring than someone following their passion – especially when they have had to overcome societal norms, adversity and discrimination to do so. That’s why this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating eight PADI Women who stand out and inspire us daily. They have overcome many obstacles to turn their passion into a life mission to save the ocean – the planet’s largest and most important ecosystem that desperately needs their help. What’s more, through their bold choices and by living through example, they are encouraging others to do the same.
1. Using Science to Save Sharks: Gador Muntaner
Originally from Spain, Gádor put on a mask, fins, and snorkel for the first time in Mallorca Island when she was 3 years old. When she turned 16, she got her open water diver certification and that’s when she knew that she would dedicate her life to the ocean. At 22 she achieved her PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification in order to be able to share with everybody what she loves the most: the feeling of diving.
In 2016 she moved to La Paz, Mexico to turn her passion into her work: the study and conservation of sharks. She did her undergraduate thesis studying sharks, as she had always dreamed, becoming a student of Pelagios Kakunjá Marine Conservation. Her research project focused on the movement patterns of the silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree studying contamination in Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) tissues in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. This love for sharks has led Gádor to travel the world–most recently running a scientific study in Spain on the positive impact sustainable shark tourism can have on the ocean.
Follow her mission to save sharks on Instagram: @gadormunta
2. Building a New Generation of Ocean Guardians: Zandile Ndhlovu
Zandile Ndhlovu is the first Black African Freediving Instructor in South Africa and the founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, an organisation seeking to improve diversity in marine conservation and sports. Zandile’s inspiring work centres around creating the magical first encounter that exposes youth – most of whom would never have the opportunity – to experience the ocean. As an ocean conservationist, diversity and inclusion specialist, and avid speaker and storyteller, she uses these skills to advocate for a blue planet in which the ocean is accessible – and protected – by all, regardless of race, gender and religion.
Zandile is a change agent, passionate about human potential being the critical currency that creates the worlds we want to live in while focusing on the collective ability to bring change. She’s leading that change one young person at a time in South Africa – and around the world.
Follow her journey to creating more diversity in the ocean on Instagram: @zandithemermaid
3 + 4. Giving the Ocean a Voice: Mermaid Elle and Brandee Anthony
Brandee Anthony is a professional mermaid, photographer and PADI Mermaid instructor based out of Vero Beach, Florida. She started her dive company, Mermaid Freedive, in 2019 and offers guests the opportunity to become PADI Freedive and Mermaid certified in an all-inclusive retreat format. Brandee has over 1.7 million online followers where she shares her love for the water and creating content that brings happiness to her viewers through photography and videography.
Follow her mission to help others connect with themselves and the water on Instagram: @brandee_anthony
Mermaid Elle is the most popular mermaid on TikTok and makes a full-time living splashing her tail as a PADI Mermaid Instructor. She takes great pride in growing teaching more mermaids, saying “becoming a mermaid is really just being yourself in your most powerful form. We call ourselves mer-sisters and mer-brothers because mermaids are one species, one family, one school of fish!” She’s already underway training up other mermaids as an official PADI Mermaid Instructor and is making a full-time living as a professional mermaid.
Elle believes that it is the mer-persons role to speak for an ocean – and its creatures – that can’t speak for itself. She’s a real-life Ariel using her skills to drive more focus upon marine conservation.
Follow her mission to inspire others to live their best mermaid life on TikTok: @themermaidelle
5. Creating More Youth Conservationists: Julia Aveline Rabenjoro
Julia is one of the youngest, and most “decorated” PADI diver with several certifications under her dive belt. Julia started her diving journey with PADI on her 8th birthday in Sabah, Borneo. Julia went on to obtain her Junior Open Water when she was 10 and her Junior Advanced when she was 12. Julia is now 14 and has just taken her Junior Rescue Diver course. Julia also started freediving at the end of last year and she is now a certified PADI Basic Freediver. Diving has helped Julia to find her passion in conserving the ocean, which caused her to create the Seed of Hope Facebook page to raise awareness and funds for ocean causes, while inspiring other young ocean advocates to do the same.
Follow her mission to plant seeds of hope in communities on Facebook: @JuliaIntoTheBlue
6. Making The Ocean Accessible to All: Cody Unser
Cody Unser, a daughter of Indy 500 racing greats, founded The Cody Unser First Step Foundation at the age of 13 to raise awareness, medical collaboration and quality of life for Transverse Myelitis, the autoimmune condition that left her suddenly paralyzed as a teen in 1999. Her foundation’s focus on mainstreaming adaptive scuba for over a decade and its potential as a therapeutic tool in exercise science is creating a buzz in the medical and dive industries. Regardless of the injury or condition, Cody advocates for others to become adaptive divers as well. Through her foundation, she established Cody’s Great Scuba Adventure, which uses scuba diving as a therapeutic and psychological tool for people living with different forms of paralysis. Her documentary, “Sea of Change,” explored the neurological and psychological effects of scuba on a group of chosen paralyzed veterans.
She has become a leading advocate for people living with disabilities and spends much of her time traveling across the country to deliver keynote speeches, attend medical symposia and help other grassroots organisations that have similar missions.
Learn more about how Cody is breaking down barriers on PADI’s Podcast: Dive Stories.
7 + 8. Showing the World How Amazing the Ocean is: Elise Gibbins and Mia Stawinski
Mia and Elise are award winning underwater and topside filmmakers and photographers. Elise is a PADI Divemaster who harnesses her cinematography skills to drive awareness and has collaborated with NGO’s and commercial enterprises who are motivated to drive positive environmental change. Elise produces world class content campaigns that connect audiences to nature’s significance and humanity’s relationship with it, with a passion for highlighting endangered ecosystems.
They have teamed up to combine their passion and love for the underwater world with their background in underwater cinematography and photography. Their goal is to highlight the beauty of the world’s magnificent marine life and landscapes while encouraging divers of all genders to explore and protect the ocean.
Follow their award winning content on Instagram: @wandervicariously and @elisegibbins
Book Review: Inshore Fishes of Britain and Ireland
Inshore Fishes of Britain and Ireland by Lin Baldock and Frances Dipper is a book designed for divers and snorkelers to help them identify the wealth of species found near our shores.
What really stands out is how easy this book is to use. One of my favourite things about this book is how it is laid out. The fish are grouped by the habitat you would usually find them in. This really helps the average diver! You can browse the type of dive you were doing, whether it was on a wreck, along a bed of seagrass, or hovering in the blue, you can find the section of the book and then the species that live there. The book is packed full of excellent photos to help you too.
Once you have located the species you are looking for, there is a really handy guide, showing you the habitats that species can be found in, what depth range they usually frequent and a brilliantly easy key to show you their approximate size.
I know this is a book that I will regularly dip into, probably after every dive I do when diving around the UK. If you like to know about what you are seeing underwater, this is a perfect companion for any diver or snorkeler.
What the publisher says:
Fish are a colourful and important part of inshore marine life, much admired by divers and snorkellers. But it can be difficult to accurately identify and record these quick-moving animals underwater. This authoritative, beautifully illustrated photographic guide offers a practical, easy-to-use approach for identifying the fish species commonly seen in the waters around Britain and Ireland, as well as a few vagrant and interesting rare species. The book’s concise text explains how fish can be identified underwater, and is accompanied by numerous photographs of each species in its natural environment and diagrams illustrating key features. The book also clearly indicates the cases when underwater species identification is more difficult. Published in association with the UK’s Marine Conservation Society, the book makes an invaluable addition to the series of marine photographic titles of Seasearch, a species recording project for volunteer sports divers.
- Features individual descriptions of more than 150 species, with information on size, depth range, habitat and distribution in the Seasearch guide icon format
- Illustrates every species in its natural underwater environment
- Emphasises key identification features and possible confusion species
- Includes a “confidence guide” distinguishing between easily recognisable species and those requiring closer examination
- Features longer sections highlighting interesting species, behaviours and other topics
- Provides information on protected species, taxonomy, shifting distributions and conservation status
- Price £22
- ISBN: 9780691249018
- Published: 25th April 2023
- Type: Paperback
- Pages: 288
Book Review: The Deep Ocean
The Deep Ocean: Life in the Abyss
by Michael Vecchione, Louise Allcock, Imants Priede, and Hans van Haren
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